Harvard and MIT file a lawsuit against the Trump administration Wednesday regarding new rules that would force students on F-1 visas to leave the country if they were not enrolled in in-person classes this fall 


Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), recently joined by Northeastern University, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this Wednesday, July 8th (The Harvard Crimson). The lawsuit is based on new rules posed by the Trump administration, which would force international students on F-1 visas to leave the country if they were not enrolled in in-person classes this fall semester (USA Today). ~

Many universities, including Harvard University, are choosing to go mostly or entirely online this coming fall due to COVID-19 concerns (Business Insider). When schools closed suddenly in the spring, the government suspended the requirement that students on F-1 Visas would have to take most classes in-person, and suggested that the suspension would last for the duration of the pandemic (NY Times). However, that guidance was reversed on Monday, July 6th, without meeting the Administrative Procedure Act’s (APA) notice and comment requirements – though exceptions to the APA’s requirements have been made for emergencies in the past (The Harvard Crimson). ~

The universities involved in the lawsuit argue that the new rules places a harmful burden on their international students, as many may not have access to the internet in their home countries, and it is too late into the summer for most to transfer to schools with in-person classes (Business Insider). They also argue that the new rules give them too little time to submit “operational change plans” or to file new Form I-20s for each of their international students (United States District Court). According to The Harvard Crimson, many universities believe that the administration is using this ruling to encourage universities to reopen in the fall. However, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli – the acting deputy secretary of the DHS – argues that DHS has already given more flexibility to international students, allowing for them to take more online classes than they previously could under F-1 visa regulations. Cuccinelli also argues that students who are not attending in person, “Don’t have a basis to be here” (NY Times). ~ 


Leave a Reply